Raymond Wood's Deathbed Letter Regarding Malcolm X Assasination

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
The above letter (written in 2011) was released a few days ago by the family of Malcolm X. It was claimed on Twitter that this was proof that "the FBI assassinated Malcom X". But it's really not that explicit, and much of the content, while being new to many people, is things that were known. It is unfortunately light on details.

Consider "Under the direction of my handlers I was told to encourage leaders and members of civil rights groups to commit felonious acts." Wood goes on to describe a type of sting operation that the FBI still carries out today. An undercover operative infiltrates a group that seems dangerous and encourages them to commit a crime like a bombing. They even go as far as supplying fake explosives. Then when the plot has progressed right up to the moment of enactment, they swoop in, arrest everyone, and declare they have foiled a deadly attack.

Wood was involved in such an operation, and his involvement was reported in the press before the assassination. The arrests were made Feb 16 1963, and were reported in the evening papers that day.

2021-02-23_08-49-02.jpg
Source Desert Sun, Volume 38, Number 167, 16 February 1965 https://cdnc.ucr.edu/?a=d&d=DS19650216.2.11&e=-------en--20--1--txt-txIN--------1 (and attached)

What's new is the accusation that the men were arrested so they would be "kept away from managing Malcolm X's Audubon Ballroom door security on February 21, 1965", and Wood's claim that "On February 21, 1965 I was ordered to be at the Audubon Ballroom, where I was identified by witnesses while leaving the scene. Thomas Johnson was later arrested and wrongfully convicted to protect my cover and the secrets of the FBI and NYPD."

This last part seems a little odd, as his cover was already blown by being reported in the newspaper. After three months undercover, he would surely have been known by sight to many people other than those arrested. He also does not state what he was doing there, however, Thomas 15X Johnson was identified at the scene as a gunman. So if "Thomas Johnson was later arrested and wrongfully convicted to protect" Wood's cover, then that would imply that Wood himself was a gunman - which seems like it should have been the main point to clarify here.

It's also odd that a three-month sting operation would be set up just to remove two members of Malcolm X's door security detail five days before the regular weekly OAAU meeting at the Audubon. That would give plenty of time to arrange replacements or reschedule. Wood specifically says that this was his assignment.

FBI and police involvement is certainly not out of the question, but this letter is really not clear evidence of what the involvement was.
 

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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
A lot of related background around Raymond Wood's involvement can be found in this 2005 article:
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/feb/21/malcolm-x-assassination-records-nypd-investigation

Article:
Campbell is an educator and civil rights activist who founded the Liberation School along with OAAU member Herman Ferguson in 1964. His papers include handwritten notes taken by the late Japanese American activist Yuri Kochiyama. The meeting, the notes explain, was held “to establish stability from this crisis.” And the notes contain an unexpected piece of information. Kochiyama’s scrawl at the bottom of the 6 March meeting reads:
Ray Woods
"‘Ray Woods is said to have been seen also running out of Audubon; was one of two picked up by police. Was the second person running out.’"

The notes appear to substantiate the accounts of Herman Ferguson and the AP of a “second man” taken into police custody. That a name should resurface 50 years later is remarkable. But more significant is that the “Ray Woods” named in the note was likely Raymond A Wood, an undercover New York City police officer with the Bureau of Special Services and Investigation (BOSSI).

Wood began his career by infiltrating the Bronx Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) chapter under the name Ray Woodall in 1964. There, he posed as a 27 year-old graduate of Manhattan College studying law at Fordham. He was soon named CORE’s housing chairman and oversaw a voter registration project.

Wood earned his activist bonafides by getting arrested with two others at city hall while attempting a citizen’s arrest of mayor Wagner for allowing racial discrimination on a public construction project. Feminist Susan Brownmiller, a fellow CORE activist at the time, recalled that if “CORE had placed an advertisement in the Amsterdam News describing what it was looking for, Woodall would have fit the bill.”

By 1965, “Woodall” had been reassigned under his real name to infiltrate a group calling itself the Black Liberation Movement (BLM). He was credited with foiling a bomb plot by the BLM that allegedly targeted the Statue of Liberty and other national monuments, just a week before Malcolm X’s assassination. One of the four arrested in the plot was Walter Bowe, who also co-chaired the cultural committee in Malcolm’s OAAU. Wood’s close association with an OAAU member makes it likely that others within the organization would also have known and recognized him.

Wood was promoted to detective second grade for making the arrests in the BLM case. And although his name and a photo of the back of his head circulated throughout the press in the week leading up to Malcolm X’s assassination, the NYPD reported that he was put back to work because his “face is still a secret.”
 

Silouan

New Member
I registered just to discuss this letter, as I have to say it smells like a forgery Wood's daughter says it is. Here's the list of my concerns regarding the letter:

1. The letter doesn't contain any new verifiable information. A deathbed confession is quite unlikely to avoid mentioning the boss by name, or giving more details of who was in charge of what. Instead, it's all unnamed handlers

2. The letter is written in the third-person perspective rather than first-person perspective. Take the sentence "Thomas Johnson was later arrested and wrongfully convicted to protect my cover and the secrets of the FBI and NYPD." How the hell the person knows that was the case? It's not like he confesses to killing, and it's not that the real killer is ever made. If a person who was there would be writing something like this, he'd include justification for similar conclusions.

3. The letter is awfully sparse on specifics of the infiltrations not already known. What organizations were infiltrated? What leaders compromised? What acts of brutality performed? What happened between 1965 and 1971? It's as if the person not only confessed to the worst suspicions of Malcom X conspiracy theorists - but confessed to these suspicions alone and nothing else. This looks suspicious in itself.

4. The letter looks like an attachment. If it is written to say "I have placed my full confession into the care of my cousin Reginald Wood Jr. I have requested that this information be held until after I have passed away." - this means that there's another letter addressed to Reginald Wood Jr. which would explain all this, because if the letter itself is the only thing in an envelope, then it's an extremely confusing set of instructions for someone to follow. Where's that other letter?

5. The envelope doesn't make any sense. Why would a letter from Huntersville be routed through Charlotte? Why would it be stamped so much later? Why would a person have a rubber stamp template for return address if he is not involved in mass mailing? And where are the fold marks on the letter itself?
 

JMartJr

Active Member
Main postal facillity in the region is in Charlotte, of which Huntersville is a bedroom-community suburb now. Would not be surprising for somebody in Huntersville to drop off a letter in Charlotte if they were going into town for some reason (work, entertainment, sport event, shopping, dining out, etc.) nor for a letter posted in Huntersville to g from there through Charlotte and on to where-ever. Charlottean here.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
Why would a person have a rubber stamp template for return address if he is not involved in mass mailing?
These were also marketed to private persons before the age of computers; my father had one. Mass mailers use printed envelopes, not rubber stamps.
 
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